WWE: What Should Be Done to Improve the Quality of the Show?
On July 23, Monday Night Raw—the 1,000th episode—expands to three hours, but if WWE hopes to keep fans awake and entertained for that duration, certain changes must be made.
We all wish we had more time.
In one week, the WWE gets their wish. Of course, there's no question that extending Raw will draw opposition.
Numerous members of the WWE Universe will claim the company can't even effectively fill the current two-hour format.
Three hours allows so much more.
Unfortunately, if WWE adds one hour without actually adding worthwhile content, there could be major backlash.
However, there are a few simple steps that can make a world of difference.
Here are 10 adjustments the WWE can make to enhance the quality of Raw, and effectively add an additional hour without turning fans off.
Cut Down the Length of Promos
Promos are necessary to building character and adding fuel to feuds.
I was almost going to argue that promos shouldn't kick things off. However, a solid promo hooks viewers from the start and lays a path for where the night is destined to go (assuming it's done well).
But 10 minutes or more? That's ridiculous.
Take last Monday's Raw for example. The show opened with WWE Champion CM Punk helping the Las Vegas crowd reminisce about his "pipe bomb" from one year ago.
Punk hypes himself up (a character building exercise) and Big Show interrupts.
Again, this is all fine. The interruption adds to the WWE Universe's disdain for Big Show and preps fans for the match between the two later tonight.
But I timed it.
It took 13 minutes for Big Show to tell Punk that John Cena might possibly cash-in his Money in the Bank briefcase after Show beats Punk up later.
Afterwards, Raw went to commercial.
The first match didn't start until 20 minutes into the show.
Daniel Bryan's proposal to AJ took three minutes longer than it should have. AJ's indecision lasted an additional three minutes.
The segment was almost longer than the match.
The worst of the night was by Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho.
I'm happy Ziggler had a chance on the microphone. Bringing out Jericho was a great move and the two can have an amazing feud. Jericho is the perfect guy to build Ziggler up, maybe even mentor him.
Yet, Ziggler needed to repeat himself six times to get his point across?
And Jericho didn't even talk.
It's a waste of programming to recap something that literally just took place seconds before the recap.
Occasionally, WWE will spotlight a power move mid-match.
It's almost like an "oh man, can you believe he just pulled this off?" moment.
On the other hand, it's not required to spend time showing the highlights of a match that just ended.
Worse, WWE tends to show the same multiple clip review several times throughout the night.
Show it once—later for those who may have missed it. That's it.
Focus on Young Talent
With a third hour of programming, there is no excuse not to utilize guys we haven't seen in awhile.
Alex Riley, Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks, David Otunga, Epico, Primo, Jack Swagger, JTG and Zack Ryder—these guys are lucky to get air time once a month.
Another hour should allow plenty of time for at least two to four of these guys to receive a match.
Perhaps it's Hawkins and Reks vs. Epico and Primo, with Swagger taking on Ryder later in the evening. The following week Riley takes on Swagger and Otunga squares off against Ryder.
The point is, the roster is massive.
More time equals more matches. More matches equal more talent exposure.
It'd be a waste of the lesser talents' time and potential to spend the additional hour focusing on the top tier superstars.
The superstars are the draw, but excluding the low card guys is no way to build for the future.
Besides, using John Cena, CM Punk and the likes slightly less during the week makes it all the more important to purchase PPVs to see them in full action.
Specific Time Slots for Specific Divisions
It's a unique approach—one that may fall into monotony and cause some to have scheduled bathrooms breaks or fast food runs—but perhaps the WWE should try dedicating certain time slots to each division.
They already do this at the end of the show—it's called the main event and it's reserved for the best of the best.
Here's how it works.
The show starts with a hooking promo or match.
After a commercial break, two mid to low cards battles. This is followed by a tag team division matchup, whether it be the champions, the number one contenders or just two teams vying for position. Another high profile match is in the middle with another important promo nearby.
Then the Divas division has an opportunity, even if it is short.
One more match with mid-card wrestlers just after the halfway point should take place—best if they revolve around the United States or Intercontinental titles or at least those more toward the upper rungs of the ladder.
The rest of the card can be the superstars of Raw.
Something to hook fans early, followed by a few matches to build interest for the future. The middle area is filled with quality, current event storylines to keep the interest from waning. One more "development" match and then Raw explodes to full potential.
Sounds like Raw now, right?
The difference is, the tag team division is always featured in the opening hour. Either the Divas or United States Championship is always defended in the second hour.
The knock may be that if one is not interested whatsoever in say, Santino Marella, and they know he's scheduled to fight around 9:45 as normal, they'll take switch channels.
No More Commercials Mid-Match
I absolutely cannot stand mid-match commercials.
I think (only speculating) the reasoning is that Sheamus versus Chris Jericho deserves at least 12 minutes. Anything less is a disappointment and a waste of time.
However, commercials must take place.
Add in the fear of fans getting bored or fast forwarding through certain slower spots via DVR, and the insertion of mid-match commercials keeps the interest.
I'm not dying to see what happens when we come back.
I'm dying because a commercial for car insurance just killed the excitement that was growing inside me during this battle.
No More Unnecessary Matches
Squash matches are one thing.
Ryback annihilates two local jobbers for the purpose of building the idea that he is a beastly man not to be taken lightly.
So where (and why) does Michael Cole versus Jerry "The King" Lawler fit in?
Lawler's aged and retired. Cole is an announcer.
It should stay that way.
There is no reason to constantly throw either of these two guys into the ring.
End on Time
I might be the only one, but I can never tell when Monday Night Raw will end.
Sometimes it's 11:04. Other times it's 11:11.
Worse, if I watch on DVR, the recording shuts itself off on the hour and I lose the ending. Maybe that's the point.
Three hours is difficult for some. An extra nearly 15 minutes is rough.
Either way, it's one small nuisance that could stand to be corrected.
Commit to Brand Separation or Cut It
More "Raw wrestlers" would have more opportunity if Alberto Del Rio, Brodus Clay and Daniel Bryan remained on SmackDown as they're listed.
It would also make SmackDown better in the process.
Either commit or scrap it.
As it stands, the format is confusing.
Why is Heath Slater on Raw every week when he is a SmackDown talent, when Zack Ryder struggles to find time?
I especially enjoy (sarcasm) when guys come out on Raw and there's a SmackDown icon next to their name.
An Ocassional Twist to Keep Weekly Viewing Worthwhile
Generally, the weekly shows are used for standard build up with predictable outcomes, while the PPVs are reserved for title changes, gimmick matches and stellar, all-out performances.
Lately though, Raw has become too predictable.
Also, not many changes ever take place at the pay-per-views. This causes special events such as Over the Limit and No Way Out to feel like episodes of Raw that cost $40.
Okay, so PPVs stepping up is a whole different article.
But, Raw could stand to dazzle every once in awhile. Once upon a time Mick Foley won his first ever WWE Championship on Raw.
When's the last time a title switched hands on weekly programming?
It shouldn't happen all the time.
But it wouldn't be awful to surprise the WWE Universe once in awhile to keep those of whom consistently provide their weekly viewership a reward for their dedication.
Highlight Lesser Titles, Give the WWE Championship a Break
You give Sheamus and Daniel Bryan a bit of time off and their absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Don't make them wrestle every single Monday night and it makes it worth paying $40 for a PPV they're on.
The same can be said for titles.
In its current format, WWE rarely schedules the United States, Intercontinental, Tag Team and Divas Championships to be defended on television.
Most of the time, they're fought for in unannounced PPV fillers or worse, in YouTube pre-shows.
Meanwhile the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships are retained week in and week out on Raw and SmackDown.
These titles are special.
They should make matches that take place for them special and the PPV cards special too.
Come PPV, the titles and feuds are watered down.
Put the lesser titles on the line more often on weekly programming and reserve the major titles for PPV and occasional Raw matches.
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